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2018 Kia Forte Overview

For 2018, Kia’s compact sedan gets some added standard features, making a great automotive value an even better deal. This comes after a very ambitious mid-cycle refresh in 2017; Kia wasn’t done with its little compact sedan. That’s the attitude to have when you want to stay relevant in this competitive segment. Going up against rivals like the Honda Civic, the Mazda MAZDA3, and the Volkswagen Jetta means Kia won't rest on its on laurels.

Trims available for the 2018 Kia Forte include LX, S, and EX. For 2018, buyers will see new standard features like cruise control included in the base LX trim. If drivers opt for the the Popular Package, they will get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Move up to the Popular Package Plus, and you’ll be treated to a new alloy-wheel design, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and LED tail lights. The sporty S trim gets a new 16-inch wheel as well as a sunroof, if they opt for the Technology package. Finally, the top-tier EX trim adds standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic and lane-change assist, which alerts you when cars are approaching in an adjacent lane. Finally, every trim gets body-color door handles. The EX additionally gets chrome trim on the handles.

LX and S trims are powered by a 2.0-liter engine that produces 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual comes standard on the LX. A 6-speed automatic comes standard on the other trims. The automatic is able to deliver 29 city mpg and 37 highway mpg. The manual drops a few mpgs, offering an EPA-estimated 25 city and 34 highway. Move up to the top-tier EX trim and you’ll get a more powerful 2.0-liter engine. It's good for 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque with an EPA-estimated 25 city mpg and 33 highway; it makes you wonder if the power upgrade is worth the efficiency penalty.

The base LX enjoys some features you wouldn’t expect at this level: heated mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, satellite radio, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. Many drivers will opt for the Popular package to get automatic headlights, cruise control, 7-inch touchscreen with reversing camera, an upgraded 6-speaker stereo, upgraded upholstery, and upgraded interior trim.

For a more exhilarating experience, the S trim offers a sport-tuned suspension, along with other goodies like a rear spoiler, LED running lights, chrome exhaust tip, and adjustable drive modes. There’s also an interior trim with block cloth and white contrast stitch, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The Technology package adds LED tail lights, fog lights, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, and a small host of safety technology like blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and intervention, and automatic emergency braking.

Finally, the EX includes the the fog lights, LED tail lights, and keyless entry and ignition from the S trim and adds 17-inch alloys, ambient interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats with rear-set venting, leather upholstery and LED turn-signal indicators on the side mirrors. The Premium Plus package is a popular choice; it includes the sunroof, power driver's seat with a memory system, ventilation for both front seats, navigation, adaptive xenon headlights, and a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking.

With such a variety of features and applications, the Forte has been chipping away at class leaders. For anyone in the market for a compact sedan, the Forte should be on your list of cars to test.


A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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